Early Experience, the Brain, and Consciousness
An Historical and Interdisciplinary Synthesis
Psychology Press – 2007 – 272 pages
This new book examines the interrelationship between neuroscience and developmental science to help us understand how children differ in their capacity to benefit from their early motor and cognitive experiences. In so doing, it helps us better understand how experience affects brain growth and a child’s capacity to learn. In this interdisciplinary book, the authors review the most significant research findings and historical scientific events related to early experience, the brain, and consciousness. Authors Dalton and Bergenn propose a new theory to help demonstrate the crucial roles of attention and memory in motor and perceptual development. The goal is to help readers better understand the differences between how individuals with normal and dysfunctional brains process information and how this impacts their ability to learn from experience.
Early Experience, the Brain, and Consciousness opens with a critical examination of why motor and perceptual development should be understood as interrelated phenomena. The authors then introduce their new theory that argues that neurodevelopment is an emergent process that enables infants to respond to the challenge of integrating complex motor and cognitive functions. Subsequent chapters examine the research that suggests that the sequence of events before and after birth account for divergent neuropsychological outcomes. The authors then demonstrate how the acquisition and early use of language conform to the same principles as those involved in the construction of motor skills. This perspective views perception and cognition as complex forms of communication and memory, rooted in preverbal forms of categorization. The book concludes with a review of strategies to help young children exploit the brain’s multiple pathways of retrieval for more efficient learning. The authors’ hope is that this new theory can be used to understand why children with brain disorders fail to attain the threshold of conscious control to benefit from their learning experiences.
Intended for researchers and advanced students in developmental and educational psychology, neuro- psychology and biology, cognitive neuroscience, and pediatrics interested in the effect of experientially-based developmental processes on the emergence of mind and consciousness.
Contents: Preface. Historical and Contemporary Perspectives in Developmental Neuroscience. Toward a General Theory of Neuropsychological Development. Prenatal Patterns of Neural Growth and Behavior. Postnatal Sensorimotor Integration. Experience and the Reorganization of the Brain: Animal and Infant Studies. The Neuropsychological Dynamics of Infant Learning. Language, the Self, and Social Cognition. Changing the Phenotype: Developing the Mind Through the Brain.